You may know this as eggplant parmigiana. It’s a classic Italian dish made with fried sliced “breaded” melanzana, layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. It’s quite labour intensive, it takes over an hour to prepare but I promise that it’s totally worth it. You can take some shortcuts – use already grated mozzarella like we did. This is a one pan meal, you normally wouldn’t eat anything additionally, but if you want to add a steak or some chicken with it to round it out that’s fine!

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants (melanzane/eggplant)

3 large eggs

4 or 5 tablespoons of coconut flour (or more, depending on the thickness of the batter)

Sparkling water (soda water) as needed to lighten the batter

Canned peeled whole tomatoes

1 medium/large onion

Crushed chillies (optional)

Salt (fine and coarse)

Ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh basil

150 grams of grated mozzarella or 1 large whole mozzarella chopped

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Grana Padano cheese

This recipe is in 5 parts and organised this way:

 

Part 1 – Eggplant slices preparation

  1. Wash the eggplants
  2. Thinly slice the eggplants by the short side (to obtain circular slices roughly 5 mm thick – a 5th of a inch)
  3. Set the slices inside a large colander and add coarse salt, layer the eggplant slices and the salt.
  4. Once all the eggplant slices are in the colander, add a weight on top of them and wait 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. After the wait is over, remove the weight, and squeeze the slices down to drain the vegetation water
  6. Wash the slices, drain them and pat them dry with some kitchen towel
  7. Put them aside for later

Part 2 – Tomato sauce preparation (to be done while you wait at step 4 above)

  1. Chop the onion into small pieces
  2. Add olive oil to a pot, cover the bottom with a thin layer
  3. Add the chopped onion and the crushed chillies (optional) to the pot
  4. Fry the onion until it is translucent and soft, stir regularly
  5. Add the peeled tomatoes, previously crushed or blitzed, to the pot
  6. Add salt and stir well
  7. Let it come to a boil and then let it simmer for 20 minutes or so.
  8. Stir regularly until done.

Part 3 – Batter preparation

  1. Break 3 whole eggs into a bowl
  2. Add salt and pepper and whisk them well
  3. Add one spoonful of coconut flour at a time and whisk it in
  4. Continue until the batter gets denser
  5. Add some carbonated (sparkling) water to loosen the batter a bit
  6. Add some more coconut flour if required
  7. Mind that the batter does not become too thick. Coconut flour tends to have a delayed effect on thickness. If too thick add a bit more water and whisk.

Part 4 – Fry the eggplant slices

  1. Add olive oil to a large pan, enough that the slices will be partially covered when dipped into it
  2. Heat up the oil (don’t let it smoke)
  3. Dip each aubergine slice into the batter
  4. Add the battered slices to the pan and let them fry on one side until light brown and then turn them over to brown the other side
  5. Remove and set aside on a plate with some kitchen towels to absorb the excess oil
  6. Continue until all slices are fried

 

Part 5 – Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Cover the bottom of a medium/large oven tray with a layer of tomato sauce
  3. Lay down the eggplant slices side by side, don’t overlap
  4. Cover the slices with tomato sauce
  5. Add grated mozzarella
  6. Add some basil leaves
  7. Add grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  8. Restart with another layer of eggplant, etc.
  9. Continue until you complete the last layer, which must be with tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmigiano and basil.
  10. Put into the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees, or until the cheese on top is melted and crispy.
  11. Let it rest for a while (20 minutes or so) before serving it.